The syrian crisis in-light of the decline of europe
By Dmitry Minin
What does the legalization of single-sex «marriages» in France, which even
such desperate acts as Dominique Venner’s suicide in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de
Paris have been unable to stop, have in common with the civil war in Syria? The
common factor is that in both cases we can see signs of the self-destruction
complex which is devouring Europe. The «Decline of Europe», predicted over 100
years ago by Oswald Spengler, has reached the depths of denying not only its own
cultural and historical roots, but the reproduction of life itself… The West, as
if possessed by a Freudian «death drive», is trying in some kind of frantic
blindness to destroy ancient Christian, and thus European, heritage in Syria.
And in exactly the same way it is destroying itself little by little through its
attitude toward the institution of the family and toward faith.
It’s some kind of theater of the absurd and a mockery of common sense when
authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where there is not a
fraction of the freedoms and religious tolerance which have long been a hallmark
of Syrian society, become Europe’s allies in the fight «for democracy» in Syria.
According to the Christian charity «Open Doors», in Qatar, for example, converts
to Christianity turn into outcasts and are often victims of violence. Christian
migrant workers live in «labor communes», where they are not allowed to gather
for worship services, and, as in the times of the first Christians, they pray in
secret. In Saudi Arabia any religion besides Islam is prohibited altogether, and
becoming a Christian is punishable by death.
Many Muslim citizens of European countries are fighting in the war in Syria
on the side of the radical Islamists. It’s not difficult to imagine what they
will bring back with them to Europe. According to expert figures, over 100 such «volunteers» from
England are fighting in Syria, the same number from the Netherlands, over 80
from France, and dozens from Germany, a total of about 600 people, or 10% of the
total number of foreigners in the ranks of the rebels. London and Paris are
insisting on a resolution to supply weapons to the Syrian opposition. To whom?
To the same people who hack British soldiers to death on the streets of their
own capital? Is that not a self-destruction complex?
Civilization in Syria was born in the 4th millennium B.C. Damascus is the
most ancient of currently existing world capitals. Syria holds an important
place in the history of Christianity. It was on the road to Damascus that the
Apostle Paul converted to the Christian faith. It was in Syrian Antioch that the
disciples of Christ were first called Christians.
Out of Syria’s population of 23 million, approximately 86% are Muslims, and
10% are Christians. Syrian Christians have their own courts, which deal with
civil matters such as marriages and divorces. Among the Christians in Syria,
half are Orthodox, and 18% are Catholics (mostly members of the Syrian Catholic
and Melkite Catholic churches). There are also congregations of the Armenian
In addition to Muslim holidays, Easter and Christmas are also state holidays
in Syria. In Damascus there are several Christian quarters (Bab Touma,
al-Qassaa, Ghassani) and many churches, including the ancient Chapel of St.
Paul. The coexistence of world religions side by side here, which could become
an example for the Middle East, is especially noticeable in Damascus’ famous
Umayyad Mosque. In the mosque’s prayer hall is a shrine with the Head of John
the Baptist (Yahya), who was beheaded on the orders of King Herod. This holy
relic is venerated by both Christians and Muslims. One of the mosque’s three
minarets is named after Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary). According to local
tradition, Jesus Christ will descend to the earth from heaven via this minaret
before the Judgment Day. The mosque is open to people of any faith every day
The leading Christian organization in the country is the Antiochian Orthodox
Church, which is commemorated third in the diptych of the autocephalous local
Churches. It was founded near the year 37 A.D. in Antioch by the Apostles Peter
and Paul. It has produced such illustrious sons as St. John Chrysostom, St. John
Damascene, and many others. In 1342 the seat of the patriarchate was moved to
Damascus, where it remains to this day. The Antiochian Orthodox Church has 2
million members, of which 1 million live in Syria (5% of the population) and
400,000 live in Lebanon (10%). Hundreds of thousands of parishioners live in the
U.S. and other Western countries. Services are held in Greek and Arabic.
An important characteristic of the Antiochian Orthodox Church is the
closeness of the clerical hierarchy to the people. In 1898, with the active
support of the Russian Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society, the Arab Meletius
Doumani became the Patriarch of Antioch. Since then practically all the bishops
of the Antiochian Orthodox Church have been Arabs, unlike, for example, in the
Jerusalem Patriarchate, which serves Orthodox Palestinians; its bishops are
almost exclusively Greeks, which creates a certain distance between them and
The second most important church in the country is the Syriac Orthodox
Church, one of the six Oriental Orthodox churches (along with the Coptic Church,
Armenian Apostolic Church and others). In Syria it has 690,000 parishioners.
Syria is also the only place on earth where Aramaic, the language in which
Jesus Christ spoke and preached, survives as a living language, particularly in
the vicinity of the Orthodox convent of St. Thecla Equal to the Apostles near
the city of Maaloula.
However, all of this could be destroyed in the blink of an eye, and the
language of the Savior of the world could die out entirely. The West is closing
its eyes to the fact that the first victims of the Syrian rebels they are
supporting are often the local Christians. What is this, shortsightedness or
betrayal? Or are the Orthodox, who make up the majority of Syrian Christians,
still «schismatics» in the eyes of Europe, like in the age of the Crusades?
Their situation in the zones controlled by Islamist rebels is very reminiscent
of that of their fellow Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo.
The French author Alexandre Del Valle writes that the «post-Christian» West has never attempted to
«defend the Christians of Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria or Sudan, who were persecuted
by Sunnites… The NATO powers, who still see Russia as the Soviet enemy of the
cold war era, have often since 1990 sent their troops against pro-Russian
regimes (Milosevic’s Serbia, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Kaddafi’s Libya, etc.), in
particular out of «solidarity» with its oil-producing «allies» from the Persian
Gulf and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which demanded that they
defend Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kuwait, and the Libyan and now the Syrian
Islamists.» According to Del Valle’s data, 80,000 Christians from Homs have left
for Damascus and Beirut, and in all one-third of all Christians have already
fled the country. Many Christian villages in combat areas in Syria have been
deserted out of fear of persecution after the arrival of armed rebels, as
testified by Anna Neistat, associate director of Human Rights Watch, after
According to an independent international investigative committee on Syria,
Christians (often well-to-do people) are suffering from attacks and kidnappings.
«One could cite as examples the Christians in Maaloula who were taken hostage in
December 2012; those in Al-Qusayr who were kidnapped in July 2012; the Chaldean
Catholics from Al-Hasakah who were kidnapped and then forced to send their
children to join the rebellion; the killing of 12 Christians from Jaramana in
August 2012; a bombing in…the historic Christian quarter of Damascus, Bab Touma,
on October 21 (15 Christians killed); the killing of 8 more Christians…on
November 28 in Jaramana… [and] the atrocious case of the Orthodox priest Fadi
Jamil Haddad…in Qatana, who was scalped and blinded for trying to free a
parishioner who had been taken hostage».
When the rebels attacked the ancient Orthodox monastery of the Prophet Elijah near the city of Al-Qusayr, which lies 20 kilometers from the Lebanese border
and was recently liberated by government forces, they totally wasted the
monastery; they stole the sacramental vessels, blew up the bell tower, destroyed
the altar and the baptismal font, and knocked down a statue of the prophet, who
is venerated in Syria by Christians and Muslims alike. This monastery is over
1500 years old, and it is under state protection as an architectural monument.
Over the past two years, dozens of churches in Syria have been destroyed, mostly
in Homs and Aleppo. An ancient synagogue in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, has
also been damaged.
On April 22, 2013, in a village in the Aleppo governorate, Metropolitans Paul
(Antiochian Orthodox Church) and Yohanna (Syriac Orthodox Church) were abducted
by armed men. The house of Metropolitan Yohanna was set on fire. The Ministry of
Religion of Syria released a communiqué stating that the clerics were kidnapped
by Chechen mercenaries from the radical Islamist Al-Nusra Front. Both
metropolitans are still being held captive.
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople stated in an interview with the
Milanese catholic newspaper Avvenire that «violence on religious
grounds, hatred and intolerance toward Christians continue to dominate in
countries in revolution». According to him, the lives of Christians in Syria are
threatened every day.
The fall of the regime in Damascus will mark the end of the history of
Christianity in the Middle East. The Maronites in Lebanon will not be able to
bear the pressure from the Syrian Islamists or the endless stream of refugees.
Their emigration from the country, which is already growing, will turn into an
all-out flight. Only the Coptic community in Egypt will have a chance of
survival thanks to its numbers, but its situation is becoming more and more
This bell tolls not only for the Middle East; it tolls for Europe as
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
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